The Picture of Dorian Gray is Oscar Wilde’s first and only novel. It looks into the very soul of man. This late 19th century horror novel is widely considered a classic for good reason.
The titled character, Dorian Gray, is a youthful innocent young man at the beginning of the novel. He meets a very opinionated man, Lord Henry Wotton, who convinces Dorian of the endless benefits of being a youth. Painter Basil Hallward is so fixated on Dorian’s beauty that he makes Dorian the soul object of all his paintings. One painting in particular does an exceptional job of depicting Dorian’s youth and beauty.
The picture is so good that Basil does not want it displayed in any museum. According to Basil, an art work shows more of the artist than the subject. And so Dorian keeps it for himself. Dorian is so thoroughly convinced of the endless benefits of being a youth that he unknowingly strikes a deal with the devil that allows the portrait to age while his own features remain unchanged.
As the novel moves along, Dorian becomes more and more corrupt with Lord Henry’s views. The picture becomes worse and worse as it reflects on Dorian’s wickedness. At one point in the novel the picture even began to bleed. All the while Dorian remained youthful, untouched by age.
This 200ish page novel is so jam packed with symbolism and philosophy that at times it seems longer than it actually is. I can’t get into a lot of it without giving away some of the key aspects of the story. I can only suggest you read it yourself and then talk to me about it afterward.
The Picture of Dorian Gray is most certainly one of these novels I will read over and over again. I can foresee myself reading it at least once every year. The book is so dirty I feel like I need to wash my hands after reading it. Don’t misunderstand, this is not 50 Shades of Grey dirty. The characters are so corrupt and what we would consider backward thinking that it’s almost horrific. Indeed, many would classify The Picture of Dorian Gray as either a horror or a gothic novel. I just call it a good read.
I don’t do this often, but I definitely give The Picture of Dorian Gray my “MUST READ” stamp of approval.